When East Ocean Blvd. was Just a “Rock Road”

Rock Road, Stuart, Martin County, FL ca. 1907. Courtesy archives Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

“This is thought to be our school house where the courthouse is today. So this would be today’s South East Ocean Boulevard. I would say the year is about 1907.” Mom

This quaint photograph is a far cry from what one sees toady. It was taken along the well traveled South East Ocean Boulvard near today’s Martin County Court House. The photo is believed to have been taken around 1907 and reveals that the area was a sand pine habitat with an understory of palmettos and other scrub like plants. These sandy soils are ancient sandbars. They remain today under inches of fill, floratam grass, and pavement.


They are interesting because we are traveling along them “all the time.”

According to the History of Martin County one of the reasons there were rumbling in our area, starting around 1915, -to brake away from Palm Beach County- was that there were no paved roads:

The book states on page 441: “There were no paved roads, for example, between Stuart and Indiantown, or between Jensen and Stuart, or from Palm City to Tequesta. The roads that had been built were narrow “shell” roads. ~By the middle 20s then citizens of this area were tired of getting stuck in the sand. They decided the only way they would get good roads was to break away and form their own county.”

Which they did in 1925. (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/counties-florida/)

Personally, I would enjoy it  if we had left a few more “Rock Roads.” I find this photo above relaxing and absolutely beautiful! Rock over Pavement! 🙂


Google Earth map of 2019. SE Ocean can be seen just south of wide St Lucie River. There are maybe three sand pine trees left.


The Long Forgotten Wetlands of East Ocean Blvd. https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2017/05/19/the-long-forgotten-wetlands-of-east-ocean-boulevard-slrirl/

Lover’s Lane, Today’s US1:https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/todays-us1/

*Today this habitat is endangered as most all sand pine scrub types along Florida’s east coast have been developed. Certainly, prior to development, there were many scrub jays and gopher turtles that had lived and adapted to changes in this area for thousands of years

WWF Sand Pine Scrub: https://www.worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/na0513

Antique Stuart, Fl postcard ca. early 1900s, with native Sand Pines, courtesy Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Photo of Downtown Stuart area. The house now is owned by the law offices of John Sherrard. This is 6th Street. Note sand pines and white sand. The building being constructed is today a yoga studio 2019. Photo courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

3 thoughts on “When East Ocean Blvd. was Just a “Rock Road”

  1. Hi Jacqui

    Talking of rocks, I wonder if your mother’s wonderful archives can shed any light on where the large rock came from that is under the East Ocean/A1A brige just a few yards west of the boat ramp near the Marriott Hotel (see photograph). It is 5 or 6 ft in dimensions, and must weigh several tons. By the looks of it, I would think it must have come from the Appalachians. Certainly it’s not local. But why would it have been transported here in the first place?

    Merry Christmas!

    Geoff Norris


  2. A place where you can drive on similar roads is Dupuis WEA…beautiful scrub and pine habitats…with some oak hammocks….Especially the Dupuis Grade.

Leave a Reply